North Cowichan council considering Stoney Hill docks

The problem of what to do about docks in the Stoney Hill Area of North Cowichan is not going away quickly.

Rezoning the foreshore to allow isolated upland properties there to get water access has been contentious, with Cowichan Tribes firmly against the concept of a row of private docks in an area where food is gathered.

Chief William Seymour stated firmly in December that he and his council would only be willing to allow a road to be constructed on disputed land if council rescinded its plans for docks. Councillors agreed to that plan.

But when the subject came up for discussion again at the Jan. 21 meeting, they needed to be reminded of that before deciding to do so.

Now, they have also decided to ask for a report and bylaw which would have the effect of amending the zoning bylaw to allow for the construction of private docks on the foreshore areas adjoining 13 privately owned properties and four public access water strips in the area.

They will also ask North Cowichan staff to investigate and prepare a report for council consideration regarding the viability of shared or communal docks or facilities, looking at everything including possible locations and even funding options.

Scott Mack, North Cowichan’s director of development services, said that the province has looked after the granting of water licences but until the past couple of years, their practice has been inconsistent.

Lately, they’ve been asking for confirmation of the property’s situation from local governments, he said.

Originally, the municipality was looking at 58 properties that might be affected by foreshore rezoning, but now that the road is going in, there are 45 properties that will have road access.

"They could be viewed differently," he said. "The other 13 properties will never have road access. They should be provided with zoning that allows for a dock since they will only have water access."

Stoney Hill resident Wendy McPherson said, "the community docks idea needs discussion with property owners before a decision is made. Let’s not back ourselves into a corner on this."